Black Friday, Cyber Monday, extended store hours and Santa Claus!
The "buying season" is here for parents and grandparents.
I admit, I love to lavish presents on both my grandchildren and my own grown children (and their spouses). But, in the midst of all of this consumerism, it is easy to forget the really important gifts of this season.
As a grandparent, here are 5 presents you must give to your grandchildren:
1. A sense of accomplishment
It is sometimes hard to remember how much your grandkids have accomplished in this past year. Here are a few of the really big accomplishments I want my grandkids to know were important:
Lost a first tooth. Do you remember how this felt? It is scary, sometimes painful and bloody. And then some fairy comes at night to "buy" your tooth? Quite a big step for my kindergarten grandson.
Learned to pick out clothes and put them on. Watching my 2-year-old granddaughter learning how to pull on leggings took me back to those days of struggling with pantyhose. Finding the arm holes, front or back and left or right shoes is a really big step.
Give up those crutches.
Giving up a pacifier and nighttime diapers. Going into gym class or swim lessons without Mom. These are like a step off a big scary cliff to my young grandson and granddaughter.
2. An interested ear
Let's admit it. Parents have a lot on their plates. Get kids to and from daycare. Navigate rush hour traffic. Give 100% at work. Cook meals. Feed and walk the dog. Help with homework. Baths. Fight about bedtime.
Listening to anecdotes about kids' days at school or daycare are not always high on the list.
That's where you come in. Whether it is on the phone or in person - or even text or email - you can be the person with time and patience to listen about the new class turtle's diet, that girl they sort of like, how scary a new school is, or even bullies. If you are a patient listener - with a desire to really hear about the day - you can give them a safe, important person to ask advice of, vent to, and share that funny, cool thing that happened.
One of the favorite things I love to give my grandkids are memories I have of their parent. I am careful to share stories about how smart, funny or accomplished their parent was. In addition to giving you the chance to remember your kids as they were, this has several positive impacts on your grandkids:
- A feeling that the parent is human and used to actually be a kid like them.
- An appreciation for the ingenuity, intelligence or humor your grandkid's parent had.
- The idea that they can and will grow up to be a parent.
You can reinforce the family and how close you are. It might be the memory of going to midnight services before Christmas, putting out cookies for Santa, or everyone gathering to have a dinner together. Your traditions help give your children a sense of belonging and the importance of family.
The world today is scary for adults. I can only imagine how frightening it could be for our children. Last Christmas I wrote about the Christmas carol "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day." Not often heard, it is actually my favorite carol because of the hope it gives.
The author, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote of the fear and despair during the Civil War. He answers his own concern in the final verse with: "God is not dead, nor doth he sleep. The wrong shall fail and right prevail with peace on earth, goodwill to men."
You can give your grandkids the gift of hope in the future. Teaching them that one person can make a difference. The Golden Rule really is important. And, they are safe and loved.
No $$ but priceless in the result
I will still buy presents like dolls, games, books and blocks. Those will take a bite out of my wallet. These 5 gifts, however, cost you nothing. And the impact they can have on your grandchild's life truly are priceless.